Author: Gary Jackson

High-Functioning Alcoholic How to Identify the Warning Signs

When you’re living with a high-functioning alcoholic, your own health is at stake as well as the welfare of your loved one. By getting help for your loved one, you may be able to avoid further consequences of alcoholism and build a healthier future for your family. Express an openness to talk about their drinking, provide support and establish boundaries. Make it clear to him that you will not support their drinking or unhealthy behaviors, and you will not share in the consequences. Many people with AUDs decide to have further treatment and support, such as attending group therapy, individual counseling, or support groups.

So it becomes difficult to ascertain the true relationship that they have with alcohol. People can have a varied reaction and tolerance to alcohol and that doesn’t necessarily mean they are alcoholics. However, as functioning alcoholics drink more regularly, they develop a higher tolerance. They still want to feel the buzz or numb out from their problems for a while, so they will begin drinking more as their tolerance to alcohol increases. High-functioning alcoholics will rarely admit that they have a problem. But if someone in your life has three or more alcoholic beverages per day (two or more for women), they are consuming more than the recommended amount.

What is a Functioning Alcoholic? Signs of High-Functioning Alcoholism

If you are living with a high-functioning alcoholic, you may be more likely than someone living outside of the household to notice their seemingly benign drinking habits. Consider having an open and honest discussion with your loved one about their alcohol use and encourage them to discuss it with a counselor or their primary care doctor. That is why alcohol detox and alcohol withdrawal treatment is administered by medical professionals. The participants in an intervention could include the alcoholic’s spouse or partner, children, parents, friends, coworkers, employer, friends and other individuals who have been affected. A substance abuse counselor, family therapist or spiritual advisor may also attend to provide an objective presence and keep the agenda on track.

High-Functioning Alcoholic

Alcoholics can go on to develop heart, respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders. There can also be declines in their mental and overall health, especially if they’re not eating healthy diets or engaging in physical activity. For anyone who’s concerned about a loved one’s drinking, please find a community of support like Al-Anon. Whether your loved one agrees or not, their actions affect you and you deserve outside support. Other alternatives include group or individualized therapy, consulting educational resources and books, or attending online support groups. It is also possible to detox as part of an outpatient program, which features varying levels of support and treatment.

Do They Experience Withdrawal? provides an anonymous online evaluation tool to check if drinking has become problematic and provides further resources for help and support. If you’re ready to seek treatment for alcoholism or would like to know more about your treatment options, American Addiction Centers (AAC) can help. AAC is the parent company of and is a nationwide provider of treatment facilities focused on providing hope and recovery for those in need. The classic picture of someone with alcohol use disorder is someone who always drinks too much and whose life is falling apart because of it.

  • Liver damage is the most talked about physical consequence and that is a concern almost immediately.
  • So the appearance of functioning may be carefully manufactured to keep their alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) unchecked and unaddressed.
  • We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

But most high-functioning alcoholics have friends or loved ones who help them cover up the consequences of their drinking. These individuals may unconsciously encourage or enable the alcoholic’s behavior by allowing the alcoholic to avoid the negative consequences of destructive drinking. In reality, a high-functioning alcoholic may be experiencing a great deal of stress while they maintain their drinking and all the dressings of a socially accepted lifestyle. So the appearance of functioning may be carefully manufactured to keep their alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) unchecked and unaddressed.

More on Substance Abuse and Addiction

If cravings and withdrawal have become severe, it’s important to consult medical professionals. Alcohol withdrawal can produce a withdrawal effect known as delirium tremens that can prove life-threatening. Detox under medical supervision is a safer and more effective option than attempting to detox without help. More recently, a 2020 study found that people who used alcohol to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic were more likely to drink alone and drink to excessive amounts. Researchers cited further risk factors, such as having a child under 18 and at home, having depression, and having fewer social interactions due to the pandemic.

High-Functioning Alcoholic

A high-functioning alcoholic may hide their alcohol abuse for years without suffering any major losses. Under the surface, this form of alcoholism can cause severe psychological and emotional damage to the alcoholic and also their loved ones.. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can impact short- and long-term physical and mental health. Getting help early on can reduce the risk of developing alcohol addiction. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.